The Untold Truth Of Confronting A Serial Killer's Jillian Lauren

If you're not yet familiar with the name "Samuel Little," you soon will be. He's the subject of several high-profile projects soon to be released, including a book and a multi-part documentary, Confronting a Serial Killer, set to air on the STARZ network. Why the sudden interest in an old man who died just a few months ago, locked away in a Los Angeles County prison? Based on evidence authorities are still attempting to sift through and fact-check, it's looking increasingly like Little may be the most prolific serial killer in American history.

For as captivated as audiences are by gritty true-crime entertainment — hence, the book and series — the woman who first broke the larger story of Samuel Little wide open may be just as compelling to audiences as the story she has to tell. As she reported in a story for The Cut, it took just hours of talking with Little to get him to do something he'd never done before: talk about the women he claims he murdered over the course of four decades. Her name is Jillian Lauren and the life that led her to Little may be why she alone was able to get him to open up.

Jillian Lauren's life is as interesting as her subjects

It's hard to summarize a life in a brief online bio, as anyone who has tried can attest, but the example on Lauren's author website begins in a strangely average way. She's a mom, she tells us. An adoption advocate, and "lousy kickboxer." Pretty benign stuff.

The bio then goes on to mention the journalist's previous books and it's hard not to read the title Some Girls: My Life in a Harem and not immediately Google to find out what it's about. Turns out the book about a young woman who goes to Brunei to become first a girlfriend (his "second favorite," she winkingly brags in a clip from the storytelling radio program, The Moth, posted on YouTube) to the brother of the country's Sultan and then a member of the harem of the Sultan himself, then the richest man in the world.

So how did a woman who described herself as just a "Jewish girl from the burbs of Jersey" find herself a sex worker in a foreign country where her passport had been confiscated upon arrival? As she explains on The Moth, she'd been an 18-year-old college dropout dancing at New York's Kit Kat Club (coincidentally where another wealthy man, Donald Trump, met his future wife, Melania, notes the New York Post) and going to Brunei seemed like an adventure. Fortunately, she was able to make her escape once the glamour of being the Sultan's consort wore off.

She's also a 'rockwife'

Once Lauren's life got back on stable ground, she was fortunate to find the real love she'd been craving during her tumultuous time in Brunei. A few years after the events of her first memoir took place, Lauren met and fell in love with her now-husband, Scott Shriner. Shriner is a bassist and the only remaining original member of '90s alt-pop band Weezer. According to Jezebel, Lauren was able to earn her MFA while touring with Weezer alongside her husband.

Despite being so frank about certain aspects of her life, Lauren seems to play her relationship with her husband a bit closer to the vest. The two have been married since 2005, though, so clearly something is working.

Lauren and her family live in the Los Angeles area, and if you're into real estate, Dirt dishes on a home in the trendy Silver Lake neighborhood they put on the market in 2018, noting that its marketing materials described it as an "eclectic Modern treehouse," with more than 2,300 square feet and surrounded by lush landscape. Maybe not a sultan's palace, but not bad at all.

She paid her good fortune forward in a very sweet way

In a review of Lauren's second memoir, Everything You Ever Wanted, Jezebel describes her difficult but ultimately rewarding journey to motherhood. After meeting and marrying Shriner, Lauren was eager to start a family but no amount of hoping and trying seemed to work. Eventually, the couple decided to adopt, something Lauren herself had some experience with.

Lauren had been adopted as an infant, and while the prospect of not having a biological child seemed to be a struggle to emotionally reconcile, it was the couple's decision to adopt that turned Lauren from former adoptee into a fierce adoption advocate.

In the memoir, Lauren details her family's experience adopting their son from Ethiopia (where she even met her son's birth mother) and writing with honesty about some of the struggles they've gone through. Because her son experienced so much early trauma, Jezebel explains, he has some behavioral challenges. There's even a cute anecdote about the family getting kicked out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame shortly after looking at some Weezer memorabilia after her son started banging on John Lennon's piano. The family seems to have adapted well, though, and now numbers four, including a second son later adopted from overseas.

How Jillian Lauren got Samuel Little to talk

A bold move to Brunei as a teen, a whirlwind rock and roll romance while earning her MFA in writing, and now the mother of two sons, Lauren appears fearless. But walking into a room with a known murderer is on a whole different level. As she describes in The Cut, Lauren is nothing if not resourceful. At one point, she even had to chew out the underwire in her bra so she'd stop tripping the prison's metal detector before her interview.

After establishing rapport over about six hours (as well as supplying Little with some requested Funyuns and a Honey Bun), Lauren details how the interview suddenly took an unexpected turn. What had been a cordial, if strange, conversation, felt very different as Little tells her he wants a TV. As she describes it, "He gazed at me with a flat, reptilian expression. It was a side of him I hadn't seen," before he went on to ask her if she was going to get him one.

Despite her discomfort, she managed to think quickly, taking Little off guard with a joke that made him laugh and relax again. It was then, she explained, that he said, "What do you want to hear about for your story, Little Miss? You want to hear about the first one?" That "first one" would turn out to be Little's first victim. The serial killer was now confessing.

She worried about becoming a psychological victim of Little

Despite Samuel Little being behind bars, the more the two talked, the more transparent Little seemed to become. In the trailer (on YouTube) for the upcoming docu-series, Confronting a Serial Killer, Lauren refers to the agreement between the two of them as a "deal with the devil."

It seems that deal was as fruitful as it was disturbing for Lauren. Little fancied himself an artist, and Lauren can be seen standing in front of a dizzying number of his childlike portraits of his victims (whom he disturbingly called his "babies," per The Cut) and remarking that he's done the portraits for her. Because so many of Little victim's were sex workers and others that society showed little concern for, many are still unidentified, and the trailer seems to indicate Lauren feels tasked with the job of giving them back their names.

While we don't yet know how successful she may be at that task, it's easy to see her dedication. At one point in the trailer, Lauren can be heard saying to Little, "If you weren't locked up, I'd probably be dead by now," to which Little responds with a chilling and drawn-out "Right." Still, if there's anyone brave enough to take on Little, it would be Lauren, herself a former sex worker and the consummate survivor who seems to have built a life secure enough to sometimes return to those dark places — knowing she can still go home again.